It really is that simple: it’s a banana. It’s duct-taped to a wall. And it has a $120,000 price tag.
The piece is titled Comedian, and it’s on display at this year’s Art Basel show in Miami Beach — though you have probably seen it circulating on your social media feeds, as well.
Steeped in Dadaist tradition, Comedian is the creation of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. There are three editions of the piece. The first two sold to two different French buyers at the start of Art Basel. The third will be priced at $150,000 and sold to a museum, the art market website Artnet reports. There are reportedly already two institutions interested.
To make the piece, Cattelan bought a banana from a local Miami supermarket and taped it to a large empty wall in the contemporary art gallery Perrotin. Crucially, Comedian comes with a certificate of authenticity verifying it as a work of art. Otherwise, it’s just, well, a banana duct-taped to a wall.
It does require some upkeep, though. Cattelan has not specified how often the banana will need to be replaced, but the gallery plans to do so at the end of the week.
Meanwhile, Comedian has become Art Basel’s breakout moment, especially online. The official Art Basel Twitter account even added a peeled banana emoji to its display name during the show’s run. Now verifiably world-famous — or infamous, depending on your take — the duct-taped banana has inspired all kinds of conversation, running from amused to awestruck to justifiably angry.
Question: how much would u pay for a banana duct-taped to a wall? Today at #ArtBaselMiami, a collector forked over $120,000 (for real) to the Perrotin Gallery for this “work” by mischievous artist Maurizio #Cattelan. Don’t worry: there are a few more for sale. #artbasel pic.twitter.com/rD07ssSUiW— Mark Oldman (@MarkOldman) December 4, 2019
1/2 Off Sale!!! $60,000 or best offer! 🍎 pic.twitter.com/ThuE0EbnIM— John B. Watson aka “Johnny Applegreed” 🍎🍏💰💰💰 (@jbwillustration) December 6, 2019
Me: spends 20+ years laboriously learning my craft.— Karla Ortiz (@kortizart) December 7, 2019
A gallery at Art Basel: BaNaNa-N-dUcT-tApE, MoNeY mE, NoW. *faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart*
Man, this sucks lol https://t.co/NLvdZfNmWw
When asked about Comedian, Cattelan said he had worked on the project for about a year, making different bananas cast in bronze and resin. But the answer, it turns out, was simpler than that.
“In the end, one day I woke up and I said, ‘The banana is supposed to be a banana,’” Cattelan told Artnet.
Cattelan is known as something of a troll in the art world. The New York Times once described Cattelan as a “neo-conceptualist,” and prominent past works include sculptures depicting Pope John Paul II getting hit with a meteorite, a kneeling 10-year-old Adolf Hitler praying for forgiveness, and a pair of New York City police officers leaning upside down against a wall — “They’re like broomsticks,” he said when a show of his opened in Manhattan in 2002.
His last work prior to Comedian was a working 18-karat gold toilet called America. It was installed in the Guggenheim Museum in 2016 — and yes, used as an actual toilet — before being moved to the Blenheim Palace in London earlier this year. America was stolen in a museum heist shortly after, according to The New York Times. It is valued at up to $4 million.